A STORY OF INSPIRATION AND HOPE: CNN HERO RAZIA JAN FEATURED IN NEW BOOK PROMOTING COURAGEOUS GIRLS, COURAGEOUS TEACHERS, AND EDUCATION AS KEY TO POSITIVE, PEACEFUL CHANGE
"This inspirational story is as beautifully illustrated as it is told. It is vital that young readers have stories like this one to show them that positive change is possible in the world, and that believing in yourself is the first step."
—Mary Chapin Carpenter, multi-platinum Grammy-winning recording artist/songwriter
WELLESLEY, MA, September 10, 2013—Based on the true story of a girl in Afghanistan who desperately wants an education and convinces the men in her family to allow her to attend school, Razia's Ray of Hope: One Girl’s Dream of an Education, written by Elizabeth Suneby with poignant illustrations by Suana Verelst, is now available, published by Kids Can Press in its CitizenKid series.
The story’s protagonist attends the Zabuli Education Center outside of Kabul, a real-world school for girls founded by Razia Jan, an Afghan native who moved to the US in 1970. Jan has worked for many years to forge connections between Afghans and Americans. She began by rallying her adopted New England community to send over 400 homemade blankets to rescue workers at Ground Zero after September 11th. Her efforts expanded to include sending care packages to US troops in Afghanistan. Through her involvement in the military’s Operation Shoe Fly, she coordinated the delivery of over 30,000 pairs of shoes to needy Afghan children. In 2008, Razia decided to give up her comfortable life in Duxbury, MA, and return to Afghanistan, where she founded a school serving seven villages where females had not been educated. Today the Zabuli Education Center educates more than 400 girls. Jan was recently honored for her humanitarian efforts by CNN as one of the top 10 Heroes of 2012, an award given to ordinary people doing extraordinary things.
“At a fundraiser for the school, I heard Razia Jan recount story after story of the challenges girls who want an education face,” explains author Elizabeth Suneby. “I knew right then that I needed to share these stories with grown-ups and kids living in developed countries who, understandably, take education for granted.” Today, after just five years of operation, the Zabuli Education Center educates 400 girls. In a short period of time, Jan has built trust with the residents of the surrounding villages, and many fathers are actually proud of their daughters' literacy and academic accomplishments. Razia is also working hard to convince older students' fathers not to marry off their daughters and let them finish high school, instead. Given the progress she has made already, Razia is optimistic that when the young girls who go through 12 years of school are ready to graduate, there will be more support for them to pursue a teaching degree, college, and more.
In addition to the poignant story, Razia’s Ray of Hope (aligned with the Common Core curriculum standards) includes: facts about education and some of the reasons why 69 million school-age children around the world are not in school; information about the real Razia Jan and the Zabuli Education Center; Dari words; a lesson plan; and questions for discussion, making it ideal for school, library, and personal use when discussing the fundamental human right of education for all children.
Award-winning author Elizabeth Suneby writes books to help youth find their voice in a hopeful world. She lives just outside Boston, MA. Illustrator Suana Verelst is an award-winning children’s book illustrator from Montreal, Quebec.
Razia’s Ray of Hope is a nonprofit foundation founded by Razia Jan, an Afghan woman living in the Duxbury, Mass., who sought to improve relations and understanding between Afghans and Americans following the attacks of September 11, 2001. Razia began her work by rallying her local community to send care packages to troops, and blankets and shoes to families in Afghanistan. In 2008, Razia moved back to Afghanistan to open the Zabuli Education Center for girls, which now provides free education to its 400 students. The foundation strives to provide opportunities to learn and grow in a safe, nurturing environment, empowering girls through education and resources so that they may work toward brighter futures — in their own villages and beyond.
Contact: Patti Quigley, Executive Director, email@example.com, (781) 771-1219
Razia’s Ray of Hope: One Girl’s Dream of an Education
Written by Elizabeth Suneby, illustrated by Suana Verelst
Ages: 8 to 12/ Grades: 3 to 6
9” x 12”/ 36 pages / © 2013 / hardcover
$18.95 CAN / $19.95 US
Publication Date: September 1, 2013
Contact: Michaela Cornell, firstname.lastname@example.org (Canada)
Deborah Sloan, email@example.com (US)